INDEPENDENT NEWS

Equal pay issues go under the spotlight in new Bill

Published: Wed 22 Jun 2011 10:16 AM
Equal pay issues go under the spotlight in new Bill
On-going equal pay issues for women have prompted a push to modernise employment law from the Green Party.
Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty today released a Member's Bill to amend the Equal Pay Act that will ensure women have access to information about pay rates in their workplace to test if there is gender-based discrimination.
"Despite having the Equal Pay Act since 1972, there is anecdotal evidence that many women are still paid less than men for doing the same job," said Ms Delahunty.
"One way to close the gender pay gap is to make sure the existing Equal Pay Act is being enforced. My Bill gives teeth to the Equal Pay Act and makes it relevant in the 21st Century.
"New Zealand was the first country in the world where woman got to vote. We shouldn't undermine this proud legacy by letting unequal pay practices continue in 2011."
The proposed changes would require employers to record the gender of their employees along with current reporting requirements. Workers and unions would then be able to request information on pay levels by gender in their workplaces to assess whether the Equal Pay Act is being applied.
Aggregate data on gender pay around the country would also be made available. This information would make it easier for women to find out if there is gender pay discrimination, something that is very difficult to do under the law as it stands.
"Since the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1972, there have been very few cases taken under it. While the Equal Pay Act had an immediate positive effect in getting rid of separate rates of pay for women, changes in employment law since then mean the Act needs updating," said Ms Delahunty.
"Proving equal pay issues is a lot harder today than it was when the original Act was passed as pay rates for jobs were public and printed in industry awards. This Bill recognises that most women are now employed on individual employment agreements or workplace collective agreements.
Ms Delahunty said the law surrounding gender equality needed a much bigger overhaul but, before we can address big picture issues, we need to ensure the current Act is being applied correctly.
"This is a small but important step to close the gender pay gap and gives women workers a new tool to ensure they are paid fairly. I hope the Government and other parties support it so that women can ensure they are paid fairly and legally," said Ms Delahunty

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